Partners and Mentors: The Most Important (Yet Forgotten) Asset

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Don’t go into business with friends or family. The chances are high that this isn’t the first time you’ve seen this advice – it’s some of the most common advice shared amongst business professionals. In terms of popular business advice, it’s somewhere between don’t reinvent the wheel and know your market.

At Shopanova, we aren’t fans of that guidance in particular. Daniel and Robby, the founders of Shopanova and hosts of the eComm Growth Show, are brothers-in-law, and they attribute much of their success to working together as partners.

“Probably my favorite thing about being in business with [my brother-in-law] is…this idea that you don’t have to be alone in it. And I think if we did have to do this journey alone, there’s been enough hard things where I don’t think I would still be here today.” (3:09)

While founding a business with family has worked for Daniel and Robby, they know that isn’t the case for everyone. The pair believes that establishing boundaries, living in humility, sharing core values, and learning from mentors are essentials for anyone going into business with friends or family.

Establishing Boundaries

Establishing and maintaining boundaries is imperative when you start a business with loved ones. These preexisting relationships are founded on emotional ties that you hope to keep outside of the company, but the lines can get blurry if you aren’t careful.

Daniel and Robby are careful to leave work at the office, especially when attending weekly family gatherings. Nothing ruins a Sunday afternoon family get-together like a disagreement over business strategy.

Living in Humility

Along with healthy boundaries, Daniel and Robby consider a lack of ego to be critical to the success they’ve had with Shopanova. By redirecting praise to the team as a whole, they tame their egos and prevent their success from becoming their identity.

“You and I rarely try to take credit for something good that happens in the business. We’re always pointing it back to each other, to the team. So I think that’s a big one where our egos aren’t super involved and we don’t base our identity on how well the business is doing.” (9:19)

While humility can do wonders for your ego, it also provides opportunities to hire for your weaknesses. When you understand your weaknesses and hire talented people to compensate for them, you set up your business for success greater than your skill.

“Most of our growth can be attributed towards forming valuable relationships, or somebody knows something that we didn’t, and maybe they did better at something that we did. And if you come into that with an ego and you want it all to be about you, it is going to be you, and you’re going to be limited to your own strengths and your own weaknesses.” (10:46)

Sharing Core Values

Commonly, a founder’s core values heavily influence their business. Whether it’s the office culture or how they conduct business deals, core values seep into every aspect of the company. If co-founders do not share their core values, the business will always feel as if it is headed in two different directions.

“If you go into business with someone and your core values are completely different, I don’t see that lasting very long.” (11:49)

Learning from Mentors

Founding a business is full of challenges and obstacles. While there are plenty of resources to help inexperienced entrepreneurs learn on the fly, few are as helpful as mentors. Mentors provide the opportunity for founders to avoid common pitfalls and accelerate their growth.

“Learning through experience is the slowest way to learn…and when you leverage a mentor to help you expedite that learning curve, it’s only a good thing.” (14:01)

Starting a business with your friends or family can be a precarious situation, but it can be undoubtedly favorable if you do it right. Make sure you remember to establish boundaries, embrace humility, share core values, and learn from mentors.

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